Our friends at Ello are back with their annual Push for Change campaign for Women’s History Month! This year, we want to highlight some amazing artists and community leaders creating work and leading dialogues around the topics of gender equality.
Without further ado, we’d like to introduce the second featured artists for Push for Change 2021, illustrator Dominique Vari!
“Creative explorer and Nature lover” is the best way I can describe myself. Originally from Brussels, Belgium, I’ve been based in London for the past 25 years where I live happily near Portobello market with my Partner. I am very passionate about my work, I love creating everyday! My life used to be centred around sport until I was in my early twenties. Becoming a designer was not on my radar. Alongside a busy career in branding and packaging, I started licencing my work on greetings cards 10 years ago. It all began with ‘Wild about Words’, typographic images made with words and a splash of colours. My work has since evolved and alongside a busy career, I keep exploring new ways and new current themes, and trending movements.
As an artist and graphic designer, I love to share positivity through modern and colourful art, aiming to bring more beauty and happiness to everyday life. My eclectic work varies from tropical Nature, typographic and motivational art, geometric pastels and energising abstract imagery. And now with new apps and technologies, I enjoy creating illustrations on my iPad.
Whilst my ideas can spring from anywhere, I’m often inspired by the ever-changing nature of Nature, using a 'less is more' approach to bring distinctive art at an affordable price. My favourite themes reflect what is of interest to me: women empowerment, mindfulness and well-being, getting closer to Nature, Minimal and Mid Century modern style. Matisse, Paul Klee, Adami and Nicky de St Phalle are artists that influence me.
I’m currently growing my licensing portfolio with collections for greetings cards, stationery, wall art, Home Décor in the USA, Canada, Russia, UK and France. I continue exploring innovative artistic styles and remain open to new opportunities. I am so grateful for this journey, the best is yet to come.
TH: How did you get started in your creative field?
DV: From a very early age, I used to love drawing, doodling and always had an interest for words and colours. Then I started art school at age 17 when I chose to specialise in Typography, printmaking and graphic design. This led to my first commissions for local businesses to create brand identities.
In my early twenties, I did lots of bespoke cards for weddings, Christenings, Christmas cards but I never thought that could become a vocation. Much later on, I started my first greetings card collection in the UK and then discovered the world of licensing more recently on online platforms.
TH: Tell us about your creative process!
DV: For my own work, I gather inspiration from what I see, what I hear, and I generally keep working on a diversity of projects. Generally, my process starts in my sketchbooks, using a mixture of words and doodles. Then I select my best ideas and re-work some of these on my ipad or directly from my iMac, depending on the style.
Sometimes, I go back to the ipad but most of the time I finalise all colours and textures on my desktop. I upload my new work on Instagram and on my Pods regularly, which helps me to see how my work looks on products. Then, I suddenly realise that I have 100s of artwork that are ready to be finalised. I only release a fraction of what I create.
TH: What inspires your artwork around womanhood and gender equality?
DV: Because of the prevalence of news and social media channels that are part of our daily lives, we are more aware than ever of diversity issues and inequalities in our different societies. I wouldn’t call myself an ‘activist’ but I’m deeply passionate about supporting and empowering women.
I strongly believe that real changes start with self-belief and self-confidence. Art is such a powerful visual tool that it allows us to communicate simple messages.
TH: What does equality mean to you?
DV: In a few words, it’s ‘Respect’ and ‘balance’ at all levels. Respect at home, at work and all places in between. In whatever circumstances, we should experience equal respect and be given the same opportunities.
And to reach that level of ‘Respect’, there is an element of re-education, openness and balance. No Respect + No Equality = Difficult Progress
TH: Advice you would give to up and coming creatives who are looking up to you.
- Always surround yourself in business with the best people you can find. Today, talent is not enough. Developing contacts and visibility around you is key.
- The clearer the brief, the happier the results.
- Create often. Keep persevering. Practice makes perfect.
- Be aware about the market trends and innovate whenever possible. Always look at ways to disrupt and evolve. Don’t be afraid to learn new things and adapt. Changes are good.
TH: Tell us about your expereince as an Artist in Lockdown
DV: Unlike many others, I had to continue working throughout the lockdown so my ‘creative time’ was very limited.I’ve made some progress using new Apps on my iPad but I still have so much to learn. Participating in many design challenges is a good way to broaden your boundaries and to manage your time.
TH: Where do you see yourself in 5/10/15/20 years?
I wish to become a full-time artist and to keep growing my licensing program in new product categories with some of the leading innovative brands. I would hope to become successful enough that I could afford time to give back to others, like mentoring young designers.
TH: What’s something that gives you hope for the future?
DV: There is more awareness about inequalities. Women seem to finally have a stronger voice and more people are listening. That and the younger generations are more embracing new projects and ideas to combat climate change.
TH: What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting out?
DV: When I finished Art School in Belgium, my father who was a surgeon came to my exhibition.
I was so proud to let him know that I had been offered 3 full time jobs on that day. He said: “If they want you, it means that you can do it yourself”. I was not sure how to take his response. I declined all offers and set up my Design studio as part of an up and coming Advertising agency, and worked with the best people I could have dreamt of for many years, before moving to London 8 years later. I became an award winning designer in my mid-twenties, I had no idea that I could build a business at such a young age. I had no idea that I could succeed in the business of being a ‘graphic designer’. Jumping before you look is sometimes the best thing one can do and it can take you through a different journey in life.
Want to get to know Dominique even better?
Well, lucky you! We’re going to be doing a livestream interview with her next week! Register for the Livestream today–it takes place on Tuesday, March 23rd at 2:30PM GMT! We’ll be celebrating all month long and we can’t wait to see you there.